I know this past month has been particularly challenging for our community. With the major snow storm we experienced last week, the ongoing pandemic, and the return to school for many kids in our community, there has been ongoing challenges.
I understand the concerns that community members have raised regarding snow clearing since the storm, and I share your concerns. The snow storm we experienced last week was one of the largest storms of the last few decades, and we saw a total of 55 cm of snow fall in the span of only 15 hours. Since the storm, City crews have undertaken the largest snow removal operation in our city's history, and are continuing to work to remove snow on sidewalks, bike lanes, and pathways. City crews have removed over 39,000 tones of snow, and have completed snow removal on over 600 km of roads.
There is always progress to be made, and more work to be done to ensure quick and efficient snow clearing. With any major weather event, a post-operational report is a worthwhile endeavor. It allows us to discover what lessons can be learned, and ensure that in the future we can react more quickly and efficiently. The Mayor has presented a motion at yesterday's Executive Committee, that I supported, to have the General Manager of Transportation Services present a report on the City's response to winter maintenance during and after this snowstorm to the City's Environment and Infrastructure Committee. This report will help the City learn, and improve.
I have also been in neighborhoods across the ward to survey the impact, and I am working with senior City staff to escalate community concerns, and ensuring that where snow removal has not been sufficient, crews are dispatched to deal with these concerns. I am also working with senior staff to ensure that improvements are put in place for future snow storms.
If you would like to keep track of where snow plows are working, you can view their efforts in real time at PlowTO.
I know that as the COIVID-19 pandemic continues we all long to return to more normal and familiar times. It has been difficult but we are making progress. We are seeing reduced hospitalization rates and stable ICU admissions. This is in large part due to your efforts in following public health guidelines, and those of residents across our City who have received their vaccinations and boosters. As of this week, 55% of eligible Toronto residents have receive their third doses. That's 1,289,164 people or 6,455,637 vaccinations in total. This is incredible progress.
If you would like more information on the vaccination options available, please visit the City’s How to Get Vaccinated webpage.
Many of you are familiar with the City's 311 system which is accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The system provides access to City services, and the opportunity for residents to report issues requiring the attention of City staff. Until now, your ability to access the 311 system has been primarily limited to phone (call 311) and e-mail ([email protected]). The good news is, this is changing! This week, the City announced the launch of a new mobile 311 Toronto app. This app will make it easier and more convenient for residents, businesses and visitors to connect with 311 Toronto – anywhere, anytime on any smart device. The app has a number of features including GPS capability, the ability to review service requests in a given neighborhood, as well as a camera function. The GSP functionality means that residents will now also be able to submit service requests for snow removal through the 311 Toronto app directly. The new 311 Toronto app is part of the City's integrated service system to serve you better.
The 311 Toronto app can be downloaded on an iPhone through the App Store, and on Android through the Google Play Store. Visit this link to learn more.
The City of Toronto is proposing cycling, pedestrian, and road safety upgrades on Bartlett Avenue, Havelock Street, and Gladstone Avenue from Davenport Road to College Street, as well as associated changes to short sections of Bloor Street and Lindsey Avenue. A virtual public meeting will take place on Thursday February 10th, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. In this newsletter, there will be further details on this proposal and the upcoming community meeting.
Finally, a reminder that beginning next Monday, January 31st, the provincial government will be easing public health measures across the province, including here in Toronto. This easing of public health guidelines will mean that restaurants, gyms and theatres will be able to again open at 50% capacity, and indoor social gatherings will increase to a maximum of 10 people. This is part of a gradual re-opening with the next stage commencing on February 21st.
Full details can be found at this link.
As always, if we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us by email at [email protected] or by phone at 416.392.7012.
Province Gradually Re-opening on January 31st
I know that we have all found the past two years challenging, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting so many of the things we previously took for granted. Likewise, for many of our businesses, such as restaurants, gyms and theatres, the public health restrictions that had to be put in place to prevent the spread of infection have been very difficult for them.
On Monday, January 31st, the provincial government will move the province, including Toronto, to a further stage of the re-opening plan. This will mean that restaurants, gyms and theatres and other businesses will again be able to open at 50% capacity and indoor social gatherings will increase to a maximum of 10 people among other changes. Please note that enhanced proof of vaccination, and other requirements would continue to apply in existing settings.
Beginning January 31st:
- Increasing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
- Increasing or maintaining capacity limits at 50 per cent in indoor public settings, including but not limited to:
- Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities;
- Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies); Shopping malls;
- Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms; Cinemas;
- Meeting and event spaces;
- Recreational amenities and amusement parks, including water parks;
- Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions;
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
- Religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
- Allowing spectator areas of facilities such as sporting events, concert venues and theatres to operate at 50 per cent seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.
Full details can be found at this link.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Dashboard Updated Regularly
The City of Toronto maintains an updated dashboard of statistics and reports on COVID-19 numbers in our City, including with a case count map. It is easy to review information on the dashboard which outlines what is occurring in our City during the pandemic. The data is updated regularly.
The dashboard can be found at this link.
City is Preparing to Increase Space at Isolation and Recovery Site for People Who Are Experiencing Homelessness
The City announced it will be gradually increasing space available at the COVID-19 Isolation and Recovery Site for people experiencing homelessness with complex health needs who test positive for the virus.
Working with program partners, the current 60-room capacity will be expanded – on a progressive ramp up as additional staffing resources and health supports are available – by up to an additional 60 rooms.
Further details can be found here.
More Opportunities for Vaccinations Continue
Getting vaccinated helps protect against serious illness, and hospitalization, and helps reduce the spread of COVID-19. This is why it it is essential that we all do our part and get our full vaccinations.
The City has opened 25,000 additional vaccination appointments and vaccinations are available for children 5 years of age or older and third dose (boosters) are available for those who are 18 years of age or older.
The City maintains a web page that is constantly updated and where you can book a vaccination appointment. You can also visit the provincial booking site, as well as the Vaccine Hunters web page which has in the past been partnering with the City.
Many pharmacies across the City and province are also continuing to administer vaccinations and you can view those currently doing so at this link. The City also maintains a web page in map format where you can enter your address to locate nearby clinics.
Vaccination Clinic at JJP Community Centre Jan 28 & Feb 4
Application Period Continues for Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program
Online applications for the new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program are now open. The provincial government program provides eligible businesses that are required to close or reduce capacity with rebate payments for up to 100 per cent of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to public health measures in response to the Omicron variant. To receive the grant, a small business must be required to close due to public health orders that took effect on January 5, and have fewer than 100 employees. Apply today.
Federal government supports available for businesses facing hardship
The Government of Canada continues to offer targeted supports for businesses and self-employed individuals facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These include rent and property expenses support; wage and hiring support; Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility; Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit and more. See the supports available for businesses, self-employed individuals and sectors.
City & Local Updates
Snow Clearing & Winter Maintenance Updates
As noted in my opening note, last week the City experienced the most significant snow storm since 1937. The snow was falling at time in the range of 5-10cm per hour and many areas of the City experienced up to 55cm of snow. After after such a major snow fall, winter maintenance and snow removal efforts have been challenging for City crews. City crews have removed over 39,000 tones of snow, and have completed snow removal on over 600 km of roads so far, with more work being done every day.
That being said, I understand the concerns have been shared by the community. This is why I have been working with City staff to escalate community concerns, and ensure that crews are dispatched to deal with these concerns as they arise. I am also in support of the Mayor's motion at Executive Committee to have a post-operational review conducted so we can learn lessons from this experience, and ensure higher quality and more efficient snow clearing operations in the future.
You can monitor the locations of City snow plows at this link.
Further information on the City's winter maintenance services can be found at this link.
New 311 Toronto App
As part of the City's continuing work to create an integrated service system for residents of the Toronto, a new 311 Toronto app was launched this week. You are probably familiar with the 311 system which provides 24/7 access to City services, and allows for residents to report issues requiring the attention of City staff.
Up until now, access to the 311 system was available primarily by phone (calling 311) or e-mail ([email protected]). In announcing this new 311 Toronto app, the City is making it easier and more convenient for residents, businesses, and visitors to connect with 311 Toronto – anywhere, anytime on any smart device.
You can access this app through this link.
Long Term Care Home and Affordable Housing at 640 Lansdowne Avenue - Public Meeting January 31st
Bartlett-Havelock-Gladstone Cycling Connections Virtual Public Meeting February 10th
As noted above, the City of Toronto is proposing cycling, pedestrian, and road safety upgrades on Bartlett Avenue, Havelock Street, and Gladstone Avenue from Davenport Road to College Street, as well as associated changes to short sections of Bloor Street and Lindsey Avenue.
The 3.5 km bikeway project proposes to improve safety by lowering motor vehicle travel speed, prioritizing people walking and cycling, and reducing local traffic infiltration.
The project would expand the local cycling network and connect to existing bikeways on Davenport Road, Bloor Street, Havelock Street, Lindsey Avenue, Waterloo Avenue, and Argyle Street.
The City will be hosting a virtual public meeting on Thursday February 10th, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. You can register by visiting the following link.
Crisis Response Unit & SafeTO at Executive Committee
The City's Executive Committee met virtually this week to consider and advance a number of important initiatives. Among the important items on the agenda was the implementation of the City Council approved non-police led alternative community safety response pilots for calls involving Toronto residents in mental health crises. The implementation plan, as reflected in these pilots, institutes non-police led responses in areas of the City where the most need exists and crisis calls of this kind are the highest in number. This includes part of our Davenport Community in the Downtown West Pilot area.
The Executive Committee agenda also included SafeTO, the City's 10 year Community Well-being Plan which reimagines core elements of community safety and well-being, and encourages to shift from a reliance on reactive emergency response to a culture of prevention. Also on the agenda was an update on the Provincial agency Metrolinx's transit expansion program in our City, and considerations with respect to the Ontario Place renewal.
More details and associated reports can be found in this link.
Portuguese Speaking Community Town-hall with Mayor John Tory
This past Tuesday, Mayor John Tory and I hosted a town-hall with the Portuguese Speaking Community here in Toronto. This was an opportunity for the Portuguese Speaking Community to share their views and ask questions on important issues facing the community. The Mayor and I answered questions on ensuring mental health access in the Portuguese speaking community, housing affordability, as well as working to ensure more culturally and linguistically appropriate access to community services. Thank you to everyone who participated in the town-hall!
Toronto Recognized As One Of The Best Places To Live
While we all know that Toronto is one of the best places in the world to live and we are proud to call our City home, it is always great to be recognized by others. This week Toronto was recognized by MovieMaker.com once again as one the best places to live as a moviemaker.
In naming Toronto one the best places to live for moviemakers, attention was paid to our abundance of cultural institutions. MovieMaker.com recognized that Toronto has "numerous contemporary art centers and galleries, large downtown parks, public gardens, and a performing arts scene that counts more than fifty ballet companies alone—the kind of place any film professional can find an culture-rich life." Moviemaker now knows what we've known all along – Toronto is a wonderful place to live, work or raise a family!
2022 City of Toronto Budget Process Continues
This month, the City's Budget Committee continues its work as it prepares its final recommendations for the City Council meeting on February 17th where the budget will be reviewed and final decisions made about the 2022 budget. I appreciate all your comments, recommendations and observations on the budget, and I will take all of them in account as we move towards February's City Council Budget Meeting.
The Budget Committee agenda can be found here.
The City also has a web page where the 2022 budget details are available.
The Budget Committee will meet throughout January and you can find the meeting dates here.
Emergency Shelter and Homelessness Service Worker Appreciation Week
Mayor John Tory proclaimed this week as Emergency Shelter and Homelessness Service Worker Appreciation week. The proclamation recognizes the dedicated and invaluable work that emergency shelter workers and homelessness service workers do in service to our communities. Toronto has over 100 emergency shelter programs that operate across our City, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round.
We know that this is only possible because of the incredible work of emergency shelter workers and homeless service workers. We sincerely thank these workers and honour them for their service to many of the most vulnerable people in our City as we continue to work to ensure that everyone in our City has a safe, secure, stable and comfortable place to call home.
Deadline for CafeTO Registration is April 2nd, 2022
Beginning on January 18th, 2022 the City started accepting applications from local restaurant and bar operators who would like to expand their outdoor dining space into the curb lane and onto sidewalks, where possible. Applications are open, and will be accepted until April 2nd, 2022. There is also matching grant available this year of $7,500 for eligible businesses.
To register and apply for permits you can use this link.
TD Park People Grants Now Accepting Applications
The TD Park People Grants is a program that supports and mobilizes community parks groups, community organizers, non-profits, park professionals, and funders who activate the power of parks. TD Park People Grants has begun accepting applications for a $2,000 grant to help build connections between people and parks. This grant is to support a vision for environmental education, sustainability and stewardship programs that helps connect people to their local parks and green spaces. More information and the link to submit an application is below.
What: TD Park People Grants support activities that promote environmental education, sustainability and stewardship in Canada’s parks and green spaces.
When: Applications are open from January 10 to February 28, 2022. Grant recipients are announced in April and activities take place between April 16 and December 31 2022.
Who: Community groups from cities across the country including the Greater Toronto Area. A minimum of 50% of all grants will be given to underserved community groups, ensuring equity-seeking groups are involved in shaping the natural spaces that matter to them.
You can find further information here.
TTC To Host Additional Consultation On 5-Year Fare Policy Project
The TTC is continuing customer and public engagement with respect to the development of the TTC’s 5-Year Fare Policy project. Consultations have taken place over the past year, and more consultations are now being convened.
As the 5-Year Fare Policy project enters its final phase, the TTC will be hosting another round of public engagement activities. There are two further opportunities for the public to be involved:
- The TTC's third External Stakeholder Workshop for community organizations is scheduled for Tuesday, January 25, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
- Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, February 2, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. – 8:30.p.m.
Interested participants can:
Pre-register or attend on the date at: https://lura-ca.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3bO7g-fCThS_Fe29gwfG8Q
Join by phone by calling +1 647-374-4685
- Webinar ID: 616 7443 0748
- Passcode: 899580907
The TTC has also created a link that provides background on their 5 year fare policy including York Regional Transit which can be found here.
Retail Accelerator Program information sessions
Register for an upcoming virtual information session on February 15 to learn more about the City of Toronto's Retail Accelerator Program and how to apply. Part of the Toronto Main Street Recovery and Rebuild Initiative, the new program provides access to retail training, advisory services and mentoring opportunities, as well as a micro grant of $10,000 to help retail businesses develop and expand.
Commercial Space Rehabilitation Grant Program to help operators and owners of vacant storefronts
The City of Toronto's new Commercial Space Rehabilitation Grant Program is offering matching funding of 50 per cent to commercial business operators and owners of vacant storefronts (or, in certain limited circumstances, at risk of becoming vacant) to undertake interior improvements. The program is a key part of the Toronto Main Street Recovery and Rebuild Initiative. Applications will be accepted until February 28, 2022 or when funds are expended, whichever comes first, and are considered on a first received, first reviewed basis. Download application form [PDF] and submit.